GERMAN DIOCESE: April 20, 2017
Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany
“A Pascha of purification, and as the glorious Sun of Righteousness, He has shone upon us again from the grave” (Paschal Canon, Ode 4).
Christ is our own Sun, and as we hear from the Gospel of John on the Paschal night, “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:5-9).
All of the righteous saints of God are proof that the Lord Christ illuminates every person who believes in Him with all his heart and all his soul, every person who comes into this world is illuminated with God’s love.
Thus every person who approaches the Lord becomes like a lantern, a small Sun. Yet those who immerse themselves in sin knows only darkness.
Christians who build their lives upon the foundation of the Gospel, know of this One True Light, and in their struggle against sin know Him even more as they are illumined. This light cannot be extinguishes, it is a Light higher than any other light, above death in all its forms. He came to the world, assuming the body of a man, and showed that the body can be the abode of such light. Neither Golgotha, nor the Cross, nor the wickedness of mankind, nor the devil, nor all the demons in Hell could extinguish this Light. He descended into Hell and shone His Divine Light upon Hades itself.
During Pascha we sing: “Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth and the nethermost parts of the earth. Let all creation therefore celebrate the arising of Christ, in Whom it is strengthened” (Ode 3). If everything is filled with light, could you and I remain in darkness?
Christ passed on this light to all of his followers. “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). This is the calling of the Christian: You and I are the light unto the world! We bear Christ within us. We hold Christ within our hearts. We carry Him in our souls. We open our conscience to Him. Let us take heed, brothers and sisters! We are the light of the world! We are called upon to be illuminated and to illuminate all around us!
Do we not discern between good and evil? Do we not love goodness and despise wickedness? We know Who is the true God, and who is the despiser of God, the father of lies and the “murderer from the beginning,” (John 8:44), the devil!
Why did the Holy Apostles and the saints become the light of the world? Because they fulfilled the Will of God, they lived by the Gospel, “whosoever shall do and teach [My commandments], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). by living by the commandments, the unextinguishable Sun of Christ will enter us, says St Justin. When we live by the law, we already begin to live in the Kingdom of Heaven while still on earth.
Let us fearlessly live by the Will of God, and flee His enemy. The light we hold within ourselves is the light of the Mysteries of the Church and holy good virtues which flow from our love for Christ. When we build our lives on these two pillars, then the Divine lantern is ignited within us. Divine light ignites our minds, our hearts and our conscience, our entire will. We then shine and illuminate all around us.
The Lord granted us His bright Body through His Resurrection, which shines with Divine Light, and no force of darkness will hinder this Holy Body during the Dread Judgment to be resurrected along with Christ. We Christians live in Christ. That is why we are given Resurrection and Eternal Life. During Great Lent we purified ourselves of all filth, all wickedness, all deceit. For this, the Resurrected Lord gives us Divine powers, Divine thoughts, Divine sensibilities, Divine attitude and intentions.
It is for us, dear brothers and sisters, to accept the Divine love with which He honors us as a reward for our prayers and fasting. Despite the multitude of our sins, the Lord desires our repentance and will accept anyone who comes to Him with contrition from the depths of his purified heart. By settling with us through His Mysteries of the Church, the Lord grants us the power, together with Him, to raise the dead—first of all, our own dead souls.
“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered” (Psalms 67:1), May He arise in my soul, and in all of your souls! Amen.
Archbishop of Berlin and Germany
Pascha of the Lord 2017.